Deforestation in Brazil Amazon at decade high: Study

In this file photo taken on August 27, 2019 smokes rises from forest fires in Altamira, Para state, Brazil, in the Amazon basin. (AFP photo)

Brazil on Thursday released revised statistics showing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest surpassed 10,000 square kilometres in the year to July 2019, the highest in more than a decade.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said last week that satellite data showed 9,762 square kilometres were cleared of trees in the 12-month period, an increase of 29.5 percent.

This week's revised statistics released by the INPE show the increase was even greater than thought: a 43 percent jump in deforestation in the world's largest rainforest, for a total loss of 10,100 square kilometres in the 12 months to July. That's against a loss of 7,033 square kilometres between August 2017 and July 2018.

The deforestation is the largest since 2008, when 12,287 square kilometres of the Amazon were logged in a 12-month period.

Previous data showed clearing in the Amazon nearly doubled in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018, to 6,404 square kilometres.

The data's announcement came after fires ravaged swaths of the rainforest earlier this year, igniting a global outcry and diplomatic feud between President Jair Bolsonaro and European leaders.

Far-right Bolsonaro is a proponent of developing agricultural and mining activities in the Amazon, 60 percent of which lies in Brazil's borders.

Faced with criticism over the fires and tree clearing, Bolsonaro accused non-government organisations of starting the blazes, and France and others of threatening Brazil's sovereignty over the rainforest. (AFP) HMB

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